New Perspectives in Science Education

Edition 13

Accepted Abstracts

Success Stories in Higher Education: Different Paths, Same Needs?

Leila Mouhib, ARES (Académie de recherche et d’enseignement supérieur) (Belgium)


Wondering about the persistence of drop-out and failure in higher education in the French-speaking part of Belgium, this communication is devoted to analyzing different students’ journeys to success to understand “what makes success”. The analysis is based on a research conducted with students achieving their BA, between April and September 2017; it suggests some ideas for support to success practices to fit better with students’ needs and perceptions. What are the success stories identifiable in BA programs from 2014 onwards? The objective is to highlight what the common ingredients to success are, no matter the diversity of journeys and profiles. The research is rooted in the sociology of education, and develops an anthropological approach, considering, with Pierre Bourdieu, higher education studies as rites of passage or rites of institution: on this basis, it highlights the existence of a particular temporality, as well as the key role of some elements, like trainers, heterotopias, acknowledgement and integration, and relation to the body. The communication ends by these conclusions. First, support to success practices are better perceived by students if they are not overtly presented as such and if they are part of the academic program. Second, success, and even more in difficult or resilient cases, rests upon real supports, both empathic and demanding. This support can come from the institution (students support services, teachers, administrative staff), family or elsewhere. Third, support to success practices cannot be considered as independent from other forms of support; they need to be in relation with, for instance, psychological and social support. 

Keywords: Sociology of education, higher education, students’ path to success;

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